Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which causes a painful, itchy fluid-filled blistering rash. The rash develops on the face, chest, back, abdomen, or pelvis, and last for 10 to 15 days.

Shingles on the face


The symptoms of shingles include:

  • High body temperature
  • Body pains
  • Burning, tingling, or itching sensation
  • Sensitivity to touch and light
  • Numbness
  • Fever and/or headache
  • Fatigue


Early treatment of shingles with antiviral medications may aid recovery and lower the risk of complications. These drugs include:

  • Antivirals Medications: Acyclovir (Zovirax), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), and Famciclovir
  • Anti-Inflammatory drugs: They are administered to relieve pain and swelling. The drugs include; Ibuprofen, Paracetamol
  • Antihistamines: These medications help to relieve itching. Examples are; Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Levocetirizine, Loratadine
  • Numbing agents: These agents are applied to the skin to relieve numbness and pain associated with the condition. Examples include; Lidocaine gel, spray, or skin patch
  • Capsaicin topical patch (Qutenza): this patch helps reduce the occurrence of Postherpetic Neuralgia; a kind of nerve pain that occurs after recovery from shingles
  • Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline
  • Anti-inflammatory injections, such as corticosteroids (prednisolone) and local anesthetics


Asides from medications, there are home remedies that could also help in the symptoms management and recovery process from shingles. These remedies include:

  • Taking cool baths or applying cold compresses to soothe your skin.
  • Applying calamine lotion to reduce itching
  • Eat foods/fruits rich in vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and vitamin E to boost the immune system.
  • Keep the rash dry and clean and avoid scratching, as this may cause infection or scarring.
  • Do not use antibiotic creams as this may slow down the healing process.
  • Wear loose cotton clothes to allow airflow around the parts.
  • Don’t share clothing, wash towel in hot water after use.
  • Avoid contact with people, as this might enable transmission to persons who may be more at risk, such as pregnant women, babies, and immune-compromised individuals.
  • Wash your hands often.

Shingles and pregnancy

Shingles in pregnancy are unusual but can occur when in contact with someone who has chickenpox or an active shingles infection. This can be very unpleasant and should be treated as soon as possible. Topical Antivirals, Oral Antihistamines, and Acetaminophen can be administered to treat shingles during your pregnancy. However, speak with a medical expert before taking any medication to treat shingles during pregnancy.


Two approved vaccines can be administered to reduce the chances of developing shingles, Zostavax, and Shingrix. Persons from 50 years and immune-compromised individuals are advised to get vaccinated.

In conclusion, people only contract shingles once in their lives. However, persons with a weakened immune system; could experience repeated infections. Complications could result in temporary or permanent vision loss, prolonged pain from post-herpetic neuralgia, and bacterial skin infections, with the latter, requiring antibiotic use.

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